The Good, the Bad, and the Truth
An insight into growing up, mental health, and relationships
Starting off, I want to introduce myself by saying I have been with my partner for over six years now, and we met when we both started high school in 2014. At the end of Year 8, we stayed up all night trying to figure out who the other liked, only to confess it was each other. The next morning, he asked, “What do we do now?” to which I replied, “Do you want to be with me?” Luckily my partner said yes and that’s how our adventure started.
What a lot of people might not know is that between the ages of 14 and 17, you are still trying to find yourself and stumbling through life. This was very true for me in particular. During these times, our love had entered the honeymoon phase: where we wanted to hold hands, sneak out to the park, and sit down, talking and eating skittles – it was a dream come true. What was unknown to my partner was my mental instability; the difficulties I felt with not feeling good enough. During the next year this would become known, and he stayed through it all. In 2016 and 2017 I was struggling with undiagnosed anxiety and depression – hiding my thoughts, breaking down each night – and he stayed through it all. The next year, 2018, was the hardest. I couldn’t stop the thoughts of never being good enough, and the need to seek constant attention when my boyfriend wasn’t around. This led to me kissing another guy, wanting attention from guys online, pushing my boyfriend away, and more – to self-sabotage our relationship. I know what you must be thinking: “Gee, man, you sound like a real arse,” and yeah, I was. I made it very difficult to keep the relationship alive, but we managed.
Then came 2019 – the year that we finished high school. Our relationship was 4 years strong, I was seeing a psychologist, and doing well. I was facing my fears of not being good enough and also trying to succeed in life. My partner was still there with me and learning about my panic attacks so that he could help me, whilst also finding his own feet in life. Both of us wanted to go to the University of Newcastle, there was no doubt about that – it was just making the relationship work that had me worried. Would we still be able to see each other? I wouldn’t see him every day, how would I cope? I was scared of losing him.
Then it happened. We started University. We were both catching the bus and our schedules didn’t line up, and so I only saw him on weekends. It was hard at the start; he was doing engineering and I was doing nursing – such different fields and in such different areas of the Uni! I thought, how can we last? How will we make this work? We were in the middle of COVID-19 during our first year of uni, we had just started our young adult lives and didn’t know what we were doing. But here is how we have finally made it to over six years together:
We called every night to talk about our day and say goodnight. We found that messages can get messy, there’s miscommunication and sometimes a lack of concentration (thanks to the XBOX…) and calling meant we could talk and go to sleep knowing we were both okay.
Talking. Asking questions: What did you have planned in your head for today? Would you prefer this, or this? How can I help you feel better? How was your day?
All of these questions were aimed at reading each other better, not assuming anything, and listening to what we needed from each other. Sometimes it was attention and time together, other times it was sleeping in bed by myself and spending time with family. Together, we have thrived instead of falling. As high school sweethearts, we have grown together and learnt what each other needs and desires.
Hey! My name is Ivy-Rose! I’m the student life columnist and contributor for the Opus mag! I love writing about life as a student, the societal expectations, and experiences that help us grow and shape us to who we are today – as individuals and a collective! When I’m not contributing to Opus, I’m helping out local charity organisations SHIBUI Services and What Were You Wearing as well as creating content!